Frank Powers, the presumptive Republican candidate for the Bay Ridge congressional seat being vacated by disgraced GOP lawmaker Vito Fossella, introduced himself to the public days after national Democratic Party officials made the rare move of endorsing Staten Island Councilman Mike McMahon in his intra-party primary.
Fossella fell into disgrace after being arrested for drunk driving and then admitting that he sired a child during an extramarital affair.
Powers and local Republicans had been nearly silent since the retired Wall Street financier and current MTA board member won the backing of county leaders on both sides of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge last month for the seat being vacated by Fossella.
This week, Powers, a self-described “conservative,” spoke to The Brooklyn Paper about his candidacy.
Unlike McMahon — a two-term councilman from the north shore of Staten Island — Powers has never run for public office. But he didn’t think that it would be an obstacle.
“You do it by community activism,” said the Bay Ridge–born Powers, who rattled off a list of philanthropic work with Staten Island groups like Staten Island University Hospital, the Sullivan Foundation and the Staten Island Academy.
As a director of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Powers is bracing for Democratic broadsides about his affiliation with the embattled agency, but he’s spotlighting his two-and-a-half-year record.
“They can use the MTA as a whipping boy, but you’ve got to look at the full record,” which he says will show he spearheaded the renovation of the 86th Street station in Bay Ridge and got more express buses in both parts of the cross-Narrows district.
Powers said he’ll focus on transportation issues, though he offered no specific ideas for curing the district’s congestion.
“I don’t have an agenda yet, but I suggest you take a ride on the highway at rush hour and you’ll see what I mean,” he said, adding, “We need federal help.”
Assistance is pouring into the race for McMahon from national Democratic Party officials.
“This seat … is going to be one of the very top priorities,” Chris Van Hollen, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, said last Friday, supporting McMahon against Bay Ridge lawyer Steve Harrison in the September primary. “We will do whatever is necessary to wage a full-out campaign.”
For his part, Harrison, who lost to Fossella in 2006 by the smallest margin of any of the incumbent’s prior opponents, said the party endorsement is a paper tiger because the party will not bankroll ads or other campaign boosts until the general election.
“It’s kind of a bare endorsement by a person who doesn’t know anything about the district,” he told The Brooklyn Paper.
©2008 Community News Group
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